Teaching and Learning Vocabulary through Videos

According to Jeremy Harmer, videos are a modern teaching and learning strategy, of English language, because by seeing the language-in-use, learners not only can hear the language, but can also see it, which leads to a good comprehension of meaning of words, while developing cross-cultural awareness, due to the fact that videos help students see typical British or American behaviour in different places and situations.

Thus, learners can hear expressions used by people when ordering food, while observing the typical body language, traditional food and type of clothing people wear. Also, this strategy involves the power of creation, because learners have the opportunity to use cameras, to make original and creative materials, useful in English language learning and motivation, due to the fact that we live in a digital era.

There are three types of videos that can be used in class:

  • Off-air programmes, recorded from TV, interesting for students if they are short and contain easy to understand words. The best programmes to use in class can be used in different activities, such as prediction, cultural awareness, teaching language, or that encourage learners’ creativity.
  • Real-world videos, such as films, textbooks, documentaries and comedy, not constrained by copyright, can be also used in class, as teaching and learning vocabulary activities.
  • Language learning videos can be found in textbooks and workbooks, nowadays and they are designed for students of different language levels, being easy to understand, comprising interesting topics for students, as well as various interesting activities.

Therefore, English teachers have the possibility to introduce a short video in a lesson, on different topics, such as Greeting and Introducing People, in which students can see the proper way to greet and introduce people, according to their status and age. Also, videos can be used to introduce, practice or analyse new vocabulary or occasionally, in order to help students relax, with music videos or parts of films, at the end of a lesson, during the feedback stage.

Furthermore, there are two main categories of video teaching strategies: viewing strategies and listening and mixed strategies. Viewing enhances curiosity, through predictive activities, in order for students to have expectations about a video, when they see it as a whole, for example: fast forward is a strategy in which the teacher starts the video and then fast forwards it, so that it goes by quickly, with no sound, in just a few seconds and then elicits the students to guess what the video was about and what were the people saying; silent viewing for language involves the teacher playing a no sound video at a regular speed, for the students to guess what the people were saying and then playing it with sound, so the students can check their answers; silent viewing for music: the teacher plays the video with no sound and asks the students to guess the type of music; freeze frame: the teacher stops the video and elicits the students to guess what would happen next or what the characters would say and nonetheless partial viewing, which involves covering parts of the pictures on the screen with pieces of paper and challenging students to guess what is happening, by revealing the video, gradually.

Listening and mixed strategies have the same purpose as viewing, to make students curious and engage them in interesting activities, such as pictureless listening with language, a strategy in which the screen is covered and the monitor turned away, so the students have to listen to a dialogue and guess the place and the characters’ identity, age or appearance; music, where students listen to the music and try to guess the mood, the scene or the place it accompanies and sound effects, in which students are asked to listen to a scene without dialogue, in order to guess what is going on and picture or speech, a strategy that involves dividing the class in two, one half facing the screen and the other half facing away. The students facing the screen have to tell others what they see, thus forcing immediate fluency of those speaking and forced comprehension to the other students, being an effective strategy of enhancing the listening comprehension skill.

All in all, video watching is a modern teaching and learning strategy, used by many English teachers and enjoyed by the majority of students, of all ages and language levels, which can be very versatile and useful. Furthermore, the activities used in this strategy help learners improve their listening, speaking and writing skills, in a relaxing and fun way.

Jeremy Harmer, The Practice of English Language Teaching, (Third Edition, completely revised and updated), Longman, 2001.


prof. Alexandra Bercea

Liceul Tehnologic Anghel Saligny, Turț (Satu-Mare) , România
Profil iTeach: iteach.ro/profesor/alexandra.bercea

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